Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Taylor playing it cool in preparations for last hurrah


By Robert Jones

Phil Taylor has the chance to end his illustrious career in perfect style when he faces Rob Cross in the final of the William Hill World Darts Championship at Alexandra Palace.

The 16-time champion ensured he would make his swansong in today's showpiece with a 6-1 semi-final win over provisional-round qualifier Jamie Lewis on Saturday.

"I'm over the moon, I really am - it's a struggle," Taylor said after reaching his 21st world final. The 57-year-old from Stoke, who has won this title 14 times and the BDO version twice, will retire after the tournament.

When asked if he thought it was fate that he would leave the sport by winning a first title since 2013, Taylor added: "No. First round, Chris Dobey, you're in for a battle. Get past Chris Dobey maybe you'll have a chance.

"When I got to Gary Anderson (in the quarter-finals) I thought, 'That's you done now', because Gary is younger, fitter, stronger and a lot better than me.

"But he didn't perform, he didn't perform like Gary Anderson so I just took advantage. I'm just going to relax, get my rest in and get ready for the final."

In stark contrast to veteran Taylor, Cross is contesting his first world final after beating defending champion Michael van Gerwen 6-5 in a remarkable semi-final.

Cross, in his first season as a professional, took advantage of uncharacteristically poor finishing from the Dutchman and held his nerve in sudden death.

"Words can't explain it," he said.

"I will come out in the final to win.

"Taylor is my favourite player actually. He was dominant and now he's leaving, it's going to be special for him but at the same time I've got to do my own job and do what I need to do to win that game.

"I never expected this, it's amazing, absolutely amazing. I never expected this rise, I really didn't."

Belfast Telegraph

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